Maryland Senate Republican Caucus

February 8, 2022


Megan Miller, Communications Director

Senate Republicans Announce 2023 Legislative Agenda
Caucus priorities include combating the rising cost of living and violent crime,

promoting transparency and accountability

Annapolis, Md. – Today, the Senate Republican Caucus announced its 2023 Legislative Agenda that is focused on
commonsense proposals to relieve the rising cost of living, combat violent crime, promote educational
opportunities and parental involvement, and champion transparency and accountability in State government.

“Just as we have approached Governor Moore’s legislative priorities with an open mind and found some common
ground, we are hopeful that the Governor and our Democratic colleagues will approach our legislative proposals in
good faith,” said Senate Minority Leader Steve Hershey. “In addition to these specific bills, we will promote
transparency in the legislative process and focus on holding the Democratic supermajority accountable for their
policies and ensuring that Marylanders are receiving the promised return on their significant investment in state

“Good ideas don’t come with a party label,” said Senate Minority Whip Justin Ready. “Our commonsense agenda will
protect and improve the lives of all Marylanders. We are pleased that two out of our three bills that combat violent
crime already have bipartisan support. We look forward to building on that as we move forward.”

Senate Republican Legislative Priorities Include:

SB 261 – Gas Tax Consumer Price Index Repeal
SB 461 – Retirement Tax Elimination Act of 2023
SB 744 – Violent Firearms Offender Act of 2023
SB 745 – Gun Violence Accountability Act
SB 564 – Theft of Handgun – Felony
SB 522 – Education – Accountability & Implementation Board – Membership
SB 566 – Family Law – Fundamental Parental Rights

Restoration of BOOST Funding in the FY24 Budget

Cost of Living & Tax Relief

SB 261: Motor Fuel Tax Rates – Consumer Price Index Adjustment – Repeal
For the second year, Senate Republicans are working to repeal the automatic, annual gas tax increase that is tied to
inflation (CPI). On July 1, 2022, Maryland’s gas tax jumped by 19.4% and increased to nearly 43 cents per gallon,
making it the fourth-highest gas tax in the Country. As the United States continues to grapple with high inflation,
continued sharp increases to Maryland’s gas tax can be expected into the future. To add insult to injury, Maryland’s
gas tax is not responsive to market conditions, and does not decrease if inflation decreases.

Repealing the automatic increase is also a matter of transparency and accountability. Every year, the gas tax
increases without public input and a vote of the General Assembly. If legislators want to increase the gas tax, they
need to follow the legislative process and be held accountable.

Even more concerning is that this same model is being considered for future minimum wage increases, and Senate
Republicans oppose this cowardly approach from becoming common practice in Annapolis.

SB 261 is scheduled for a hearing the Senate Budget. & Taxation Committee on Wednesday, February 8th.

SB 461: Retirement Tax Elimination Act of 2023

Senate Republicans are again championing the elimination of all retiree income taxes. The retiree tax reduction
passed last year was a first step, however, $1,000 is not enough to keep our retirees in their home state. Retirees
play critical roles in our communities as volunteers and mentors. As Governor Moore stated, “Maryland is no one’s
farm team.” We need to make Maryland affordable and keep those that call Maryland home here and not lose them
to nearby retirement-friendly states.

Senate Republicans support Governor Moore’s proposal to provide retiree income tax relief to our veterans and
believe that all retirees deserve the same.

SB 461 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee on Wednesday, March 1st.

Combating Violent Crime

The Senate Republican crime package complements other proposals this session to address violent crime and hold
repeat, violent offenders accountable.

SB 744 – Violent Firearms Offender Act of 2023
The Violent Firearms Offender Act passed the Senate during the 2021 Session (SB 852) but died in the House. SB
744 is a reintroduction of the amended bill that received bipartisan support two years ago.

SB 744 increases the penalties for committing crimes with an illegal firearm from 3 years to 5 years of prison time
and raises the maximum fine from $2,500 to $10,000. It also repeals the unconscionable drug dealer loophole where
drug dealers receive a lighter sentence than someone else convicted of the same offense. It also creates penalties for
someone who sells or gives someone a gun knowing that they will use it to commit a crime.

SB 744 has not yet been assigned a hearing date and has bipartisan support.

SB 745 – Gun Violence Accountability Act

In an effort to suppress violent crime and make our communities safer, the Senate Republican Caucus reached out
to newly-elected Baltimore City States Attorney Ivan Bates to discuss actionable policies that are needed and could
be implemented.

The Gun Violence Accountability Act is legislation supported by Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates. SB 745
increases the penalties for illegally possessing a firearm from 3 years to 5 years of prison time and increases the
maximum fine from $2,500 to $10,000.

SB 745 has not yet been assigned a hearing date.

SB 564 – Criminal Law – Theft of a Handgun

Making the theft of a handgun a felony has been a long-standing priority of the Senate Republican Caucus. This
measure was amended into public safety legislation in previous years but was later stripped out in the House of

SB 564 makes the theft of a handgun a felony, not misdemeanor, and establishes penalties for a first conviction of 2
to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Subsequent convictions carry imprisonment of 5 to 10 years
and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

SB 564 has not yet been assigned a hearing date and has bipartisan support.

Education & Parental Involvement

Restoring BOOST Funding
Senate Republicans believe in an “all of the above” approach to education where parents should have the ability to
choose the schools that are the best fit for the needs of their children and family, whether that be a public school,
private school, charter school, virtual school or homeschool option.

Our members were disappointed that Governor Moore’s FY24 Budget proposal eliminated 20% ($2 million) of
funding for the BOOST Program that provides scholarships for low-income students to attend nonpublic schools.
Senate Republicans will work within Maryland’s new budget process to restore that funding and make school choice
an option for low-income children.

SB 522 – Education – Accountability and Implementation Board – Membership

The Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB) is the body responsible for overseeing the implementation of
the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future – the $32 billion, ten-year overhaul of the state’s public education system. In
September 2021 when the AIB members were approved, our members were deeply concerned that board did not
include representation from any of Maryland’s rural jurisdictions.

The enormous amount of tax dollars being spent by the AIB are being provided by all Marylanders, not just those
living in Central Maryland. Every Marylander deserves to have a representative on the Board that is knowledgeable
and has experienced the challenges and opportunities facing public education from all areas of the State

Having broad geographic representation on the Board is imperative to realizing success in every jurisdiction within
our state, and SB 522 would ensure that the AIB has one representative from Western Maryland (Allegany, Carroll,
Frederick, Garrett or Washington Counties), one representative from Southern Maryland (Calvert, Charles or St.
Mary’s Counties), one representative from the Eastern Shore (Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s,
Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico or Worchester Counties), and one member from each of the counties with the largest
student populations in the State.

SB 522 does not yet have a hearing date scheduled.

SB 566- Family Law – Fundamental Parental Rights

SB 566 clearly codifies the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing, education, care, and welfare of
their children in state law and prohibits state government from infringing on a parent’s right to do so.

Especially in the areas of education and healthcare, it is imperative that state policies always point towards
strengthening parental involvement, supporting parents’ primary role in their children’s development, and
promoting transparency in how the government engages with their children.

SB 566 does not yet have a hearing scheduled.

Download a copy of 2023 Legislative Priorities here.